Respawn explains how lag compensation works in Apex Legends - Dexerto
Apex Legends

Respawn explains how lag compensation works in Apex Legends

Published: 29/Apr/2021 7:08

by Andrew Amos

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Ever wondered how you can get hit behind cover in Apex Legends? It’s because of lag compensation. Respawn has opened up on how the system works, and why they decided to implement it into the battle royale.

Lag compensation is a term familiar to fighting game players (it’s akin to rollback), although for battle royales, it’s practically unheard of.

Typically if you boot up an FPS — say CS:GO, Valorant, or even Warzone — and you have high ping, you’re at an immediate disadvantage. The server won’t register your shots, you can’t run around corners without getting beamed by the enemy first, and more.

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However, Apex Legends bucks the trend with lag compensation. Respawn have opened up on how the feature works, and why they prefer to equalize the field rather than let low ping players dominate.

Apex Legends Octane Jump Pad
Respawn Entertainment
Every Apex Legends player knows what it feels like to get shot behind cover. Respawn says that feature is intentional.

How does lag compensation work in Apex Legends?

According to developer Samy ‘Ricklesaucer’ Duc, lag compensation allows players on high ping to more fairly compete with those on low ping.

“Our servers have to constantly look at not only what’s happening for you and your opponent at that moment, but also what was happening from both your perspectives at the time both of you input your actions,” he explained in an April 28 blog post.

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“Lag compensation is the art of merging slightly different experiences into one shared reality.”

While most online games just rely on server-side inputs, which always favor lower ping players, Respawn wants Apex Legends to cater to players who don’t have the most reliable internet connection.

Pathfinder in Apex Legends with sad face
Respawn
Even if you have a bad internet connection, lag compensation gives you a chance.

“Some games always give the advantage to players with lower ping, but we actively choose not to with our system,” Duc said.

“Players with low ping don’t always have an advantage over high-ping players.

You can play Apex Legends and play relatively well even if you have higher than average latency, which is really important for rural players, or for players in regions where connectivity is unstable.”

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Pathfinder
Respawn Entertainment
Respawn don’t intend on removing lag compensation despite some players’ concerns.

Lag compensation leads to “nonsense,” but it’s intended

The biggest criticism of this system comes from “nonsense” ⁠— the rather technical term used by Respawn to explain why some players get hit from behind cover.

The devs have tried to minimize this, but they value the “fairness in online competition” by equalizing ping as much as possible.

“It feels bad to get shot when you think you’re behind cover due to bad ping. It also feels bad to get shot by somebody before you could even see them due to bad ping. But the nonsense is distributed symmetrically,” developer Earl Hammon added.

“We’re committed to reducing this at every opportunity. Not only do we want everyone to have a fair experience, we want you to have a fun one,” Duc said.

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